The Mission: Wolf team, executive director Kent Weber, his wife Tracy Ane Brooks and three ambassador wolves, visited Weekend Today in CNY on Saturday morning. Even though the three were on leashes, it was clear that they had their own sense of order and proper behavior. Our interviews normally run two minutes, this one went longer to give a good look at these elusive and often feared animals, which are making a comeback in parts of the country.
Zeab (pronounced Zeb, arabic for 'wolf') got a lot of our attention. When he visited last year, he was just a half year old, and looked like a baby. Now at a year and a half, he's the equivalent of a human 17 year old, and he is physically the biggest of the three. He was born at a wolf sanctuary, but then could not find a permanent zoo home.
Magpie, a 10 year old Arctic Wolf, was a washout as a movie animal. She is the alpha female ('wears the pants in this family,' says Kent) and her growls clearly kept the boys in line. She is the most laid back of the three and spend much of her appearance stretched out, relaxing on our carpet.
Abraham, 5 years old, was rescued from the streets of Salt Lake City. It's believed he's a husky cross. He was tussling with Zeab over a piece of rawhide before we were on air. Magpie put a quick end to the squabble.
Kent and Tracy travel the country in a converted bus for several weeks of the year, showing off their ambassadors and explaining the importance of wolves in nature's hierarchy. They are designed to keep big animals, like deer and elk, under control--their absence at the top of the food chain here, says Kent, is one of the reasons we have a deer overpopulation and pest problem. He points out that coyotes are getting bigger, physically, and can run deer, however with moose also growing in numbers, the wolf still has a place.
Kent also points out that coyotes have urbanized and are not afraid of people--he forsees more dangers from them to people, if they are not kept in check.
The wolves that visited were very relaxed. Our quick refresher on eye contact (don't look away or down, it's an insult) and on letting them sniff and see clearly helped put them at ease. However, they are BIG, they eat alot, and they are not dogs--the other message: these are not pets.
The Mission: Wolf website has much more on the Colorado sanctuary, which supports wolf education and welfare. It also has thumbnail sketches on all the wolves sheltered there. (More on the wolves' visit last year: http://ow.ly/eY1Yo)